Drew Silva

Pittsburgh Pirates v St Louis Cardinals

Carlos Martinez to return to Cardinals’ rotation on Friday

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Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday night against the Nationals with what was described as a minor back issue. The decision was really more about limiting the 23-year-old’s workload, which is something the Cardinals are now doing with 24-year-old righty Michael Wacha. Proof of that is Martinez getting clearance to return to the rotation Friday in St. Louis’ big series opener versus the Pirates.

J.J. Bailey of KMOV says Martinez will go Friday, Jaime Garcia will take Saturday, and John Lackey will pitch Sunday. This means Lance Lynn is going to get some extra time to rest his rolled right ankle.

St. Louis opened play Tuesday with a six-game lead over Pittsburgh in the National League Central standings. Martinez boasts a 2.91 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 154 2/3 innings this season.

Paul Goldschmidt excused from Diamondbacks to be present for the birth of his first child

Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks
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National League MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt was not included in the Diamondbacks’ starting lineup when it came out Wednesday evening and there was no sight of him or his street clothes in the visitors clubhouse at Denver’s Coors Field. Now, via MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, we know why …

Arizona has a scheduled team off day Thursday, so Goldschmidt is only going to miss a game or two.

The 27-year-old first baseman boasts a .322/.437/.563 slash line with 27 home runs, 97 RBI, 21 stolen bases, and 85 runs scored in 132 games this season for the Diamondbacks, who will travel to Wrigley Field next.

Video: Albert Pujols cranks his 35th home run of the season, 555th home run of his career

Albert Pujols
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Watch as Albert Pujols jumps on this Sonny Gray pitch in the second inning Wednesday

It was the 35th home run of the year for Pujols, who is now just one of four players in the history of Major League Baseball to reach the 35-homer plateau in 10 of his first 15 major league seasons. The other names on that list: Alex Rodriguez, Mike Schmidt, and Willie Mays. Not too shabby. It was also the 555th home run of Pujols’ career, tying him with Manny Ramirez at 14th on the all-time home run leaderboard.